Th 29 June 2017
Summer has finally and fully arrived at the Cape Romain NWR. You can tell either by the calendar, as I am fond of remembering the solstices and equinoxes, or by the Spartina alterniflora (saltmarsh cordgrass) that never seems to fully green up until very late June. Well, the grasses are finally and fully green, and the transformation of the marsh vista is equally subtle and fantastic. For months I've been watching the Spartina grow greener as the brown tips fade slowly. Summer is here.
And the birding wasn't too bad either. Summer is "supposed" to be the slow time for birding, but that really doesn't seem to be reflected much in the species count that I had on the day: 18 species on the boat ride, 55 species on the island, and 57 species on the day. Not too bad for the "slow" time of the year. There were several highlights including my FOY Reddish Egret, Common Terns, Wood Stork, Whimbrel, and Black Scoter. There were also fairly high counts of Least Terns and Black Terns (LETE were nesting on Bulls in May, BLTE may be nesting there now). Among the shorebirds there were high counts of Short-billed Dowitchers, Black-bellied Plovers, Semipalmated Plovers, Wilson's Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones, and Semipalmated Sandpipers.
Alas, I listened for and looked for the Black-whiskered Vireo that we found two weeks ago but did not re-locate it. My eBird checklist from the island is available at:
Non-avian sightings included a black racer (snake), several fox squirrels, American alligators, and Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Largely absent were the mosquitoes, thanks mostly to the persistent NNE winds on the day. I did see a couple of turtle crawls on the North Beach and noted several marked loggerhead nests on the same beach. I think that the turtle patrol folks are having a busy summer. And the dune vegetation working to stabilize the dunes on the North Beach has finally recovered from hurricane Matthew (October 2016) that had flattened many of the newest and lowest dunes. The sea oats are really taking root and growing tall now.
Looking ahead at the tidal calendar suggests the following dates to consider for our next survey:
Wed 12 July 2017 4.5 ft high tide forecast at 10:29 AM
Thurs 13 July 2017 4.6 ft high tide forecast at 11:10 AM